In the exciting rush of developing a product and creating a company, founders don’t always remember a critical ingredient for starting a business: your audience.
Unfortunately, not every business finds the right audience to fit their offering. They get so excited to build a solution that they don’t consider the problems they should solve for their audience. The result? Lackluster sales and a very small customer base.
If you can’t find the right market for your product, you’ll always struggle to sell. No matter where your business is today, you can overhaul your targeting with something called product/market fit, or PMF.
What is product/market fit?
Product/market fit is about designing a product that satisfies the market’s needs. Notice how this isn’t about creating a cool product for the sake of it. Product/market fit is about starting with your target audience’s needs and building a solution for it, not making your existing solution fit into what you think your audience wants.
But that’s just one component of PMF. Your market not only needs to be interested in your product, but that market needs to be large and engaged enough to make your business profitable. If you only have 50 target customers in the world, it’s going to be much harder to build your business.
When we fine-tune our PMF, however, we’re able to sell our product to the people who need it. The key to a successful business is knowing how to match your solution to the right people.
At its core, PMF isn’t about persuading people to buy. If your product/market fit is on point, the “why” is automatic; customers will come to you for the solution because it matches their recognized need.
Four ways to fine-tune your product/market fit
So, how can we actually improve our product/market fit? Get started with these four tips to overhaul your product/market fit and make more product sales.
Know your business
For good product/market fit, you must know thyself. What sets you apart from other companies in your space? How does your USP help you resonate with potential customers?
It’s OK to take a stance and have a personality, even as a business entity. In fact, doing so is going to pre-qualify potential customers, ensuring that only interested people are engaging with your brand, which will boost ROI.
It’s important to define the story of your brand, but don’t hold too tightly onto that story. If you’re running a small product-based business today, things will change. Your business will grow and selling platforms will change, which means your market will change, too. Whatever happens, be ready to pivot, but balance that need to adjust with making your brand voice heard.
Understand your target market
“Market” is a critical part of product/market fit. You need to understand the people who buy your products. What are their hobbies, values and interests? Where do they like to shop? Who or what informs their shopping choices?
Once you’ve researched your audience, mirror their values in your own branding, down to your website, marketing and product packaging. Mesh consumer expectations with your brand identity. When you do your homework, you’ll be able to mirror their values in your own branding, which is a game-changer for product brands.
While it’s OK to adjust your brand to fit the market, that doesn’t mean you should completely change your business model every month. That’s a recipe for disaster, as it will confuse your customers and cause you to lose out on orders.
Customers are wary of brands today. Thanks to the internet, consumers can learn just about everything about you with a quick Google search. If you make the mistake of claiming something on social media that doesn’t jive with your website, customers are going to notice. For example, if you claim to be sustainable but your product packaging contains single-use plastic, customers will lose faith in your brand.
Once you’ve determined your PMF, you have to show up consistently for your market. Otherwise, you’ll lose any semblance of customer loyalty and have to start from square one. Stay true to your values from the start. Everything from your marketing to packaging and customer experience should align with your values in order for your company to scale.
Value community feedback
Nobody’s perfect. There’s always going to be some way you can improve your product. The key to scaling your product business is to listen to this feedback. Don’t shy away from engaging with your customers on social media or blogs. This is a critical opportunity to forge customer relationships and collect feedback.
Whether you’re getting negative reviews or unlikes on your Facebook posts, use that feedback. Instead of getting upset that the customer doesn’t like your product (it happens), take it as constructive feedback that will spur growth.
In fact, this is an opportunity to make even more money! For example, if your customers want more spice in your perfume, why not make a product to fit that demand? That’s good product/market fit at work, and it drives bottom-line growth like crazy.
The bottom line
Is it time to grow your business? Follow these four tips to improve product/market fit no matter where your business is today. Fine-tune your PMF to connect with even more customers, sustainably scaling your brand for the long haul.